Ancient Deities, Familiar Truths

As the world shrinks, we benefit by our willingness to gain an appreciation and respect for the diversity surrounding us.  There is much to be gained by finding common ground with those whose cultures we have never experienced.  I have so much to learn.

Buddhism and Hinduism are both ancient religions with their origins in India. the roots of Hinduism easily extend more than a thousand years before the birth of Christ.  They are cultures both rich and full of meaning.  To my Western understanding, there are similarities between the two religions that might reasonably be compared to the similarities between Jewish and Christian origins, beliefs and traditions.

While Buddhism and Hinduism both recognize many deities, they do not represent separate gods, but rather different manifestations of one God.  Some of these manifestations are quite strange to us; and each of these deities may have multiple roles.  Additionally, some Buddhist deities originate in Hindu traditions:

[1] Ganapati/Ganesha

[2] Vidyaraja

These symbols of their God, however foreign to us, should not deter us from understanding the universal truths which are part of these faiths.  Many of the beliefs of Buddhist and Hindu teachers could come from the mouths of our own spiritual leaders, still others, are worthy of our respect.

Buddhist Quotes:

Three things can not be hidden; the sun, the moon and the truth.  Buddha

Health is the greatest gift, contentment the greatest wealth, faithfulness the best relationship.  Buddha

In this way, all here are the same, whether rich or poor, educated or uneducated, Easterner or Westerner, believer or non-believer, and within believers whether Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, and so on.  Basically, from the viewpoint of real human value we are all the same.”    The Dalai Lama [3]        

If there is love, there is hope to have real families, real brotherhood, real equanimity, real peace.  If the love within your mind is lost, if you continue to see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much knowledge or education you have, no matter how much material progress is made, only suffering and confusion will ensue.  The Dalai Lama [4]

The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.  Atisha [5]          

Hindu Quotes:

I came to the conclusion long ago…that all religions were true and also that all had some error in them, and whilst I hold to my own, I should hold others as dear as Hinduism.  So we can only pray, if we are Hindus, not that a Christian should become a Hindu…But our innermost prayer should be a Hindu should be a better Hindu, a Muslim a better Muslim, a Christian a better Christian.  Mohandas Gandhi [6]

A coward is incapable of exhibiting love; it is the prerogative of the brave. Mohandas Gandhi

 

 
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[1] Ganapati/Ganesha–Ganapati is the Buddhist wealth deity.   Ganesha is the Hindu god of wealth and success
[2] Vidyaraja was apparently a Hindu deity incorporated into Buddhism.  He has many images representing  such attributes as purification of the mind, wrath, protection of believers, eliminating evil.
[3]From Kindness, Clarity and Insight
[4] From the Path to Tranquility
[5] 11th century Tiebetan Buddhist master
[6] Quote similar to quote by Sri Sathya Sai Baba, born 1926 “I have come not to disturb or destroy any faith, but to confirm each in his own faith-so that the Christian becomes a better Christian…”
The opinions in our blog do not represent the opinions of our families, our employers or our friends.  They do from time to time represent our attempts to understand the world around us.  If we are in error in our understandings, we are happy for caring corrections.
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The Power of Love is Transcendent: Guest Author, Carl Mesle

Biography:  Carl Mesle is a retired minister with the Community of Christ Church in Independence, Missouri. He is my dad and Meg’s granddad.  Carl has dedicated his life to his church and his community.  He wrote and taught on creating healthy families and healthy children.  He retired as Pastor of the Stone Church in Independence.  At age 97 and in failing health, he wrote what he describes as his “final” letter to the editor of our hometown newspaper.  It was published in the Independence Examiner, May 31, 2012.

The Power of Love is Transcendent

Love–sacrificial, caring love–is the greatest power in the world.  It abolishes hate.  It brings people together in caring communities.  It provides the pathway to unity.  It provides the power to bring couples together and to produce children in caring familities, and it offers the support of relatives and friends.

On the wider community level, it offers peace between nations and cultures and provides a mutually compatible relationship between humans, animals and the resources of nature.  It eliminates warfare.  It is expressed in the care of animals.  It makes it possible for people to labor together to create buildings of beauty and sturdiness.  It provides the foundation of human endeavors, which permit the exploration of the seas and the skies.

Loving and caring for oneself is also essential to living one’s best.  Possibly the most exciting and satisfying element of love is expressed in the intimate, physical experiences in the sexual relationship of mating, but only when it is mutually sought and enjoyed.

There are several kinds of love, that of lovers, that in the everyday working of couples in marriage, that of a parent for a child, that of laying one’s life down for a friend, and that spiritual love exchanged between God and his worshipers.

Please note: the views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of the primary authors of Shifting the Balance.  However, we think it is important to encourage the free flow of ideas in order to promote collective action and compromise.  In order to keep the country “in balance” we believe we should all work together, and that means sharing and respecting ideas, including those that may be different from our own.

What do Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice have in Common? Czech Mentors!

Madeleine Albright and Condoleezza Rice are dynamic women whose influences on U.S. and world events had a significant impact on foreign policy decisions.  Both served as U.S. Secretaries of State.

Albright is a Democrat, politically a moderate.  Rice is a Republican, politically a conservative. They are of different faiths, with different philosophic perspectives. Two powerful, but very different personalities, styles and beliefs. Since reading Madeleine Albright’s book, The Mighty and the Almighty, I have enjoyed discovering her world views, her life experiences and her views of the development of the U.S. as a nation and an international power. But I was still surprised when I learned of the political interconnections between Albright and Rice. It is all about mentors.

In her book,  U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, the 64th U.S. Secretary of State under President Bill Clinton, describes her values and beliefs.  She describes being influenced by her father, Josef Korbel, a Czechoslovakian diplomat, and by Tomas Garrigue Masaryk, the first President of Czechoslovakia, in whose government Korbel served. Rice also identifies Josef Korbel as a major figure in her life. So, who are these men? And how did they influence two such brilliant and unique individuals?

Tomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850-1937) was born in Hodonin, Moravia. He was a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Prague and a visiting professor at the University of London.  He served in the Austrian Parliament from 1891 to 1893 and 1907 to 1914.  He went into exile in 1914 and organized Czechs and Slovaks living outside Austria-Hungary. He developed a network of exiles who passed intelligence to the Allies while helping to establish the Czechoslovak Legions who fought with the Allies in World War I. He traveled throughout Europe and the United States from 1916 to 1918, encouraging allied leaders to force the “disintegration” of Austria-Hungary. When Austria-Hungary fell at the end of WWI, Masaryk became head of the provisional Czech Federation.  He was elected President by the National Assembly in 1918, 1920, 1927 and 1934.  He died before the Munich Agreement was signed in September 1938. Korbel briefly served in Masaryk’s government.

Masaryk was raised Catholic and, as an adult, converted to the Unitarian faith.  He married a U.S. citizen, also Unitarian.  Albright describes him as an intellect who did not consider belief in God necessary to be moral, but did believe “religious faith, properly understood, did much to encourage and strengthen right behavior.” Masaryk considered humanism and religion to be intertwined, with religion ultimately being about showing respect for every person and helping others.

Josef Korbel was born in what is now the Czech Republic.  He was a young diplomat when he was forced to flee his homeland due to his Jewish heritage when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia. He would also have been at risk of arrest due to his diplomatic ties to President Edvard Benes, President of Czechoslovakia after Masaryk’s. He returned to his homeland after World War II, served as ambassador to Luxembourg, and fled again when the communists assumed power in 1948. Sentenced to death in absentia, he was given political asylum in the United States.  It is little wonder he had a keen interest in democracy and a love for this country.   Korbel ultimately moved to the University of Denver where he founded the school bearing his name, the Josef Korbel School of International Studies. Even though he was Jewish by birth, Korbel appears to have espoused no religious faith in his youth, and raised his children in the Catholic faith.

Josef Korbel may be best known as Madeleine Albright’s father, but he was also a mentor to Condoleezza Rice, the National Security Advisor and 66th U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush.  She studied under him at the University of Denver and describes him as a central figure in her life.  Her PhD dissertation dealt with politics and policy under communism in his homeland, Czechoslovakia.

Both Albright and Rice credit Korbel with the belief that “democratic values are at the heart of peace and stability in the world.” Both women have reflected that Korbel considered the United States the “Indispensable Nation” because of its pivotal role in world affairs. They, too, share that belief.

In understanding Secretary Albright, it is helpful to understand her admiration of Masaryk, her father, and the impact both had on her world view. In understanding her father, it is important to recognize that his beliefs were broad enough to nurture two women with such diverse points of view.  It also gives us insight into the values that influence the beliefs of both women and their perspectives of faith and politics in interacting with world and national leaders. We journey on!